This past weekend our church had a Men’s Retreat. The church website post is here with a few pictures.
There were 22 different men who went on this overnight camping trip out on a 163-acre farm at Green River. The youngest guy who went was 14 years old and the oldest was 83 years old. And everyone one else was somewhere scattered in the middle of those two ages. This made for a great time. The church is made up of men from all ages, and the Bible teaches for older men to influence the younger men. Overnight camping trips is such a great way to deepen those relationships.
From what I am hearing since then and what I heard yesterday at church, all the men who went had an awesome time. Lives were impacted; relationships were strengthened; Biblical understanding of manhood & responsibility were heightened; and fun and happiness were increasing.
Here are a few of my reflections now that I look back over the retreat:
- Men love to still act like boys. We absolutely enjoyed skipping rocks, looking at stars, sitting by the fire, playing with the fire, etc.
- Men having good, strong, healthy relationships is so beneficial.
- Men like to be challenged when they don’t first feel they are being criticized.
- Younger men look up to older men. Younger men desire to be like older men in many ways even though many times they do not say it.
- Most men recognize the large amount of responsibility that they have in their lives.
- You get a group of men to sit around a camp fire and you can talk to them about the Bible for hours.
- Getting away from your stressful lives for even just 24 hours can prove to be so refreshing.
- Encouraging unbelievers to be apart of your trip can prove to be so helpful in deepening relationships in order that the Gospel may be further communicated.
We are already excited about the next Men’s retreat!
A few weeks ago I had the great opportunity to be the guest preacher at the Whitefield Academy (High School) Senior Retreat. The Retreat was for three days and was held at the Country Lake Christian Retreat Center in Indiana. I could not have been more impressed and encouraged by the caliber of students that were on this trip. They were a joy to be around for three days.
The theme of the retreat was: Following Christ is hard but it is absolutely worth it!
Here is the re-cap video from the retreat which a student put together. (Notice me on the left doing the zip line backwards and upside-down at the 3:53 mark) I am so humbled and thankful that my church allowed me to go be involved with an event like this one.
Notice some of these great verses in God’s Word about the “fool:” Oh, that we would desire to walk in the wisdom of God!
“the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.” –Proverbs 10:14
“whoever utters slander is a fool.” -Proverbs 10:18
“the way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” -Proverbs 12:15
“a fool flaunts his folly.” -Proverbs 13:16
“A fool despises his father’s instruction.” -Proverbs 15:5
“Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.” -Proverbs 17:12
“the father of a fool has no joy.” -Proverbs 17:21
“A fool’s lips walk into a fight.” -Proverbs 18:6
“whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool.” -Proverbs 28:26
“The fool says in his heart ‘there is no God.'” -Psalm 14:1 & 53:1
I recently finished reading Daniel Akin’s new book 10 Who Changed the World.
This book is one of the better books that I have read in a while. It stirred my heart to love and live for our Great God & Savior Jesus Christ with more zeal.
Akin’s book is made up of 10 short chapters, each of which is a brief biography of 10 different Missionary-Christians whose lives made a lasting impact upon the world.
Many Christians have spoken of the great influence that Christian biographies have had on their lives. This mighty book does that 10-fold. Dr. Akin has taken 10 different biographies and squeezed them into one small easy-to-read book that is certain to impact all who read it.
I will write one of my favorite quotes from each chapter of the book.
- William Carey = “On his deathbed, Carey breathed to the Scottish missionary Alexander Duff, “when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey. Speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.” Jesus is the Savior so worship Him.”
- Adoniram Judson = “Born in 1788 in Massachusetts, he died in 1850 and was buried at sea. No earthly grave marks his departure from this world into the world of his King Jesus. Fred Barlow said it well when he wrote, “By whatever measurement you measure the man Judson — the measurement always is the same — he was a mighty man!””
- Bill Wallace = “I don’t want to offend you, Miss Wright, but we Chinese are not used to seeing Americans or Europeans do things like this. We know the missionaries love us, but there was always a difference. They lived their way and we lived ours, but Dr. Wallace didn’t know about the difference. He was one of us. He accepted our portion — all of it.”
- Lottie Moon = “It was never said that she was beautiful, but this little lady had a certain attractiveness about her and a powerful personality that would be essential in her service on the mission field” and She said “We must go out and live among them, manifesting the gentle, loving spirit of our Lord. We need to make friends before we can hope to make converts.” And also “Twenty years following her death, Chinese women in remote villages would ask, “When will the Heavenly Book visitor come again?” Their testimony about her was, “How she loved us.””
- Jim Elliott = “He was a fine athlete who saw sports as a helpful way of preparing his body for the rigors of the mission field. He enrolled at Wheaton College in 1948, joined the wrestling team, began speaking to youth groups, started journaling in his junior year, and met Betty.” And Also my favorite quote by Elliott “I have found that the most extravagant dreams of boyhood have not surpassed the great experience of being in the will of God.”
- George Leile = “Unless the pastor functions as a pastor/theologian and missionary/evangelist, the church is left with no leader or example at the top of what it means to live the cross-centered life.”
- David Brainerd = “Oh how precious is time! And how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misapproved it, or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity.”
- Eric Liddell = “My greatest joy is just to do what pleases Him.” And also an unknown prostitute from Tientsin who told how Eric put up a shelf for her: “He was the first man to do something for me without asking for a favor in return.”
- John and Betty Stam = “It is as clear as daylight to me that the only worth-while life is one of unconditional surrender to God’s will, and of living in His way, trusting His love and guidance.”
- James Fraser = “For years his godly mother prayed that at least one of her children would become a missionary. God heard and answered that prayer! In fact, his mother wrote, “I could not pour out the ointment on [Jesus] blessed feet as Mary did, but I gave Him my boy.” James would gladly say his missionary call was the result of his mother’s prayers. God hears the prayers of godly mothers and fathers for their children.”
These are just some of the many, many underlined and highlighted quotes in my copy of this good book. If I could recommend you to read any book next, please read this one. It is only 178 pages total. It will surely move and stir your heart toward God.
J.C. Ryle on the cost of following Christ:
“It costs something to be a true Christian. Let that never be forgotten. To be a mere nominal Christian, and go to church, is cheap and easy work. But to hear Christ’s voice, and follow Christ, and believe in Christ, and confess Christ, requires much self-denial. It will cost us our sins, and our self-righteousness, and our ease, and our worldliness. All–all must be given up. We must fight an enemy who comes against us with twenty thousand followers. We must build a tower in troublous times. Our Lord Jesus Christ would have us thoroughly understand this. He bids us “count the cost.””
“Our Lord spoke as He did to prevent men following Him lightly and inconsiderately, from mere animal feeling or temporary excitement, who in time of temptation would fall away. He knew that nothing does so much harm to the cause of true religion as backsliding, and that nothing causes so much backsliding as enlisting disciples without letting them know what they take in hand.”
Last night at our church we had an ordination service for Peter Witkowski. It was such a blessing in so many ways.
The service was full of singing and prayer and also 2 short sermons.
I preached the charge to the candidate for ministry (Peter). I preached on being “upright” from Titus 1:8, the qualification for a minister.
Jason Fowler preached the other sermon- the charge to the church. He did an outstanding job! It challenged me to be a better pastor to our people. And it is something I wish every Church person everywhere could hear.
His sermon was 7 Ways to Bring Your Pastor Joy and Not Groaning from Hebrews 13:17.
Here were his 7 points:
- Obey & Submit to your pastor (Hebrews 13:17)
- Remember your leaders & imitate them (Hebrews 13:7)
- Give them honor (1 Timothy 5:17)
- Pray for them & let them know it (Hebrews 13:18)
- Be there! Let your pastor see you regularly. (Hebrews 10:25)
- Be unified. Kill drama & division. (Philippians 2:2)
- Walk in the truth (3 John 3-4)
Around here this saying “For the Glory of God” has become quite familiar.
We sing about it and preach about it. Many of the books I read are centered upon it. The shorter catechism that we teach our children asks this for question #3 Why did God make you and all things? To which they have learned to answer accurately For His own glory!
1 Corinthians 10:31 beautifully states “Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The Glory of God is indeed the chief end of man. So, when man begins asking himself what he desires to do with his life? Somewhere in the answer we must certainly find Glorify God.
Anything short of this would be a wrong way of life and a wasted life.
It is with all of this in mind that I quote R.L. Dabney. This quote comes from Dabney writing on “What is a call to the ministry?” This quote stops me dead in my tracks and shakes me. Am I doing what I do for God’s glory?
“These scriptures, and a hundred others, plainly teach that the only condition of discipleship permitted by Christ to any believer is complete self-consecration to his service. In this the self-devotion of the minister is just the same as that of all other true Christians. If a Christian man proposes to be a teacher, physician, lawyer, mechanic, or farmer, it must be, not chiefly from promptings of the world or self, but chiefly because he verily believes he can, in that calling, best serve his heavenly Master. If he hath not this consecration, we do not say he is unfit for the ministry only, he is unfit to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.” (Bold emphasis mine)
Here is a picture of our VBS group while we were working in Ecuador.
And here is a picture of me on the hillside by the church by the soccer field talking with some kids. I was reading to them in Spanish about Jesus.
While in Ecuador I asked every member of our mission team to read this great little book by C.J. Mahaney. It is called The Cross Centered Life.
It was encouraging to know that many of my fellow church members were focusing their lives upon the cross of Christ. The book is very short and easy to read. It can easily be read in one sitting. It is only 85 pages.
Here are a few highlights from the book:
- (page 25) “Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and acceptance by God through obedience to God.”
- (page 43) “But its impossible to resolve issues of yesterday by doing better tomorrow.”
- (page 45) “Have you realized” preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones once observed, “that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”
- (page 54) “A cross centered life is made up of cross centered days.” (This may be the best quote of the book.)
“Humility may well be called the queen of the Christian graces. To know our own sinfulness and weakness, and to feel our need of Christ, is the very beginning of saving religion. –It is a grace which has always been the distinguishing feature in the character of the holiest saints in every age. Abraham, and Moses, and Job, and David, and Daniel, and Paul, were all eminently humble men. –Above all, it is a grace within the reach of every true Christian. All have not money to give away. All have not time and opportunities for working directly for Christ. All have not gifts of speech, and tact, and knowledge, in order to do good in the world. But all converted men should labor to adorn the doctrine they profess by humility. If they can do nothing else, they can strive to be humble.”
-J.C. Ryle commenting on Luke 14:11